For today's Ludlow race, I suggested the possibility of E/W bets on Nordic Combined, Star of Rory and Eddiemaurice at 14/1, 14/1 and 10/1 in opposition to the 6/5 favourite Robinshill.
Those three E/W possibles finished 5th at 10/3 jt fav, 2nd at 10/3 jt fav and the 8/1 winner, so a winner and a placer from three possibles. The overnight favourite drifted right out to an SP of 5/1 and could only manage fourth.
On Thursdays, we offer the Instant Expert guide for all races to all readers, including our 'races of the day', which are scheduled to be...
- 2.27 Chepstow
- 3.27 Chepstow
- 5.25 Thurles
- 5.30 Southwell
I had a look for some runners with interesting Instant Expert graphics, but most of them looked like they'd be really short prices, so I'm reverting back to the first of our four free races above...the 2.27 Chepstow, a 10-runner, Class 4, handicap chase over 2m3.5f on Soft (heavy in places) ground. The winner will receive £4,289 and will be one of the following...
Silver In Disguise tops the Geegeez Ratings and I'd expect him to be a fairly warm favourite here, but this is by no means a free hit, so let's see if we can find something in his rivals' recent history that might suggest an upset, starting with...
Supreme Escape bears top weight here and was a fairly useful staying hurdler, winning over 3m0.5f on Christmas Eve. He was disappointing on his chase debut here at Chepstow when 7th of 9, but in his defence it was a real drop in trip to 2m0.5f and he'd been off the track for 257 days. He then won here over course and distance 15 days later on heavy ground and based on that run, he could go well here again, despite struggling back at 3m1.5f last time out.
Keep Rolling makes his chase debut today, but did win over hurdles a this class and trip on heavy ground three starts ago. Represents the Hobbs/Johnson trainer/jockey partnership which always command respect, especially as the yard are 14 from 65 (21.5% SR, A/E 1.20) over fences here since 2015, including 6 from 29 (20.7%) for today's jockey.
Pride of Lecale was pulled up before the last hurdle over this course and distance on heavy ground almost three weeks ago seeming to suddenly run out of gas. Probably no surprise after 433 days off the track, though. He doesn't have too many miles on the clock for a ten year due to three lengthy layoffs which suggests he might not be the strongest, so probably best watched on chase debut, although he does have some decent form on heavy ground and jockey Paddy Brennan is in great form right now with 7 wins from 25 (28%) over the last fortnight including 5 from 16 (31.25%) for trainer Fergal O'Brien.
Silver In Disguise is our likely favourite and this former PTP winner struggled in three races over hurdles before tacking the bigger obstacles for the first time at Catterick last time out, where he was an easy 21 lengths heavy ground winner, which will explain why he'll be popular. Conversely, he's up in class, up in trip by 3.5f and up a massive 15lbs, so plenty of unknowns there and the yard is only 3 from 51 over the last two months and has just 4 wins from 88 here at Chepstow since the start of 2018, including a 0 from 17 record over fences.
Minimalistic has finished 12th of 14 twice (bt by 51L & 78L) over hurdles and was then 3rd of 5 on chase debut, beaten by 25 lengths just over seven weeks ago. He's down in trip (by 5f), down a class and off a mark of 112 for his handicap debut hasn't been given much slack by the assessor. He's not one I'd want to back.
Crypto has has just five starts to date, winning one of two bumpers and finishing fourth in each of three hurdles contests, including a 20 length defeat on handicap debut over this class/trip/going at Bangor six weeks ago. Form doesn't suggest he's likely to win on handicap debut, but trainer Venetia Williams is famed for her horses winning in the mud (2 from 2 at Ludlow today) and she has a long-term good record over fences here at Chepstow including two winners and a runner-up from six already this year.
Ostuni made the frame (albeit 23 lengths behind the winner) at this course, distance, class and going last time out and now returning from a short 12 week break, he's been lowered 3lbs in the weights, which should help him be a little more competitive. He has won a couple of hurdle races at longer distances than today including one on soft ground, so stamina should be OK. He'd be a surprise winner here, but could build on that last run to make the frame again.
Dunbar is still a maiden after 13 attempts (2 x NHF, 10 x hrd and 1 chase) and his best spell came in two months during mid-2019 when he finished 3322, but has floundered since. He didn't see 2m7f out very well on chase/yard debut last time out, eventually finishing 6th of 9 and beaten by 15 lengths despite having led until after 3 out but now takes a 3.5f drop in trip which should help his race management if nothing else. David Rees' chasers are 14 from 74 (18.9% SR) on soft/heavy ground since the start of 2018, but I can't this one adding to that tally.
Cushuish has won just one of her 16 previous outings, but has made the frame in five of her last seven. She makes a chase debut here off a mark only 1lb lower than her hurdles rating, where she's just 1 from 12. Further doubt is cast by the fact that most of her racing has been on quicker ground over longer trips at a lower grade than today. So, there's too many things not right for her here for me to want to leave her alone (I suspect she'll have plenty of red on Instant Expert).
Dawn Sunrise carries bottom weight here for a chase debut after three nondescript efforts over hurdles. He wqas beaten by 88 lengths over this course and distance on debut two years ago, was pulled up twelve days later and then a further 18 days after that, he finished last of seven some 46 lengths off the pace at Wincanton. He's carrying no weight here off a mark of 92, but he hasn't raced for 703 days, hasn't jumped a fence in anger and in David Noonan, has a jockey desperately short of winners after just 1 from 35 over the last month. Not finishing last would equate to success here.
Not much chase form to go off today and a field with just 11 wins and 15 further places from 85 starts, I'd imagine that most of these lack a positive profile under today's conditions. To save you ploughing through past results/stats etc, our simple traffic light system on Instant Expert tells you their place from and then their win form under today's conditions in all NH contests...
Going and distance are key here and so I've ordered them in number of places of soft/heavy ground and from the above, it's pretty clear that the first six are the ones best suited and of those Supreme Escape catches the eye on distance. My general "rule of 2" is that I like to see at least two non-red sectors from going/class/course and distance, so that would count against Cushuish here.
And in terms of winners...
...the first three named (who featured heavily on the place graphic) all look to be better suited than the favourite. A word of caution about Supreme Escape, as he's now some 7lbs higher than his last win, but again that pales against Silver In Disguise's 15lb hike in weight.
In 12 previous similar contests, only horses racing in mid-division have failed to register a victory with hold up horses winning 41.7% of them, but that's only marginally better than par off 40.4% of the runners. Prominent racers won a third of the dozen races from 31.6% of the runners, so again marginally better than par, but it was front-runners who performed best with 17.5% of the runners winning a quarter of the races.
I wouldn't be put off by having backed a horse that then ran in mid-division, as 12 runners from 114 is no real sample size and a quarter of them made the frame, which isn't too far behind Prominent or Held-Up runners. Unfortunately, after all that, our pace tab tells me there's no confirmed front-runner here...
...although the first four in that list have all led in at least one of their last four outings as denoted by the number 4 in the following graphic...
...suggested that one of them will have to step forward here. Keep Rolling won when he made all when winning at this class, trip and going over hurdles three starts ago, so it wouldn't be a massive surprise if he tried to do the same here.
Silver In Disguise won well last time out and I can see why that would make him popular, but I suspect the rise in class, trip and (lots of) weight might be his undoing here today and he could be vulnerable to the likes of Crypto ( if he decides to race prominently), Keep Rolling (likewise) and Supreme Escape, who has a good all round profile for this contest.
Of those four, I think Crypto might be the weakest, so he'd b e the last one I'd discard before taking my three against the field for today.
From the three I've got left, I think I like the prospects of Keep Rolling at 13/2 under Richard Johnson best. RJ was on board for that made all win and I think he's the best jockey in this contest at judging the speed of the race. Whilst for the minor places/trifecta purposes, I fancy Supreme Escape (also at 13/2) to edge out Silver In Disguise, who doesn't strike me as great value at 2/1 or shorter.